Thousands of South Koreans demanded that the government act quickly to prevent the disaster of contamination of nuclear waste from Japan. Photo/Reuters
SEOUL – Thousands of protesters gathered in the South Korean capital on Saturday (26/8/2023) to demand the government take steps to prevent a disaster resulting from Japan’s release of treated radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
Japan began dumping water from a factory north of Tokyo into the sea on Thursday despite objections both at home and abroad from fishing communities and others concerned about the environmental impact.
“We won’t immediately see a disaster like the detection of radioactive material in seafood, but it looks like this release will pose a risk to the local fishing industry and the government needs to find a solution,” said Choi Kyoungsook of the Korea Radiation Watch group.
About 50,000 people joined the protest.
Japan and scientific organizations say the water, which was distilled after being contaminated by contact with fuel rods when the reactor was destroyed in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, is safe. However, many people do not believe in this.
The utility company in charge of the power plant, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) has filtered the water to remove the isotopes, leaving only tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that is difficult to separate.
The Japan Fisheries Agency said on Saturday that fish tested in the waters around the plant contained no detectable levels of tritium.
South Korea says they see no scientific problem with the release of the water, but environmentalists argue all possible impacts have not been studied.
“No one knows what will happen to the marine ecosystem in the next 100 years,” said Choi.
Japan says it needs to start releasing the water because storage tanks holding about 1.3 million metric tons – enough to fill 500 Olympic-sized swimming pools – are full.
The first release of 7,800 cubic meters – the equivalent of about three Olympic pools – will last about 17 days.